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‘We need to ... find a solution’: Recent break-ins at La Jolla businesses worry Village merchants group

A recent break-in left La Jolla's Bang & Olufsen with a broken window.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

In the wake of several break-ins at La Jolla businesses in the past few months, the La Jolla Village Merchants Association updated its strategic plan to add a safety and security component at its Jan. 12 meeting online. The group also plans to work with the city of San Diego and the police to improve communication among businesses to help catch and deter burglars.

La Jolla’s Bang & Olufsen high-end consumer electronics store on Girard Avenue accounted for four of the 24 burglaries in The Village in 2021 and early 2022.

“I have been in San Diego for a little over a year now and we have had four break-ins,” said Bang & Olufsen manager and LJVMA board member Nicole Perez. “Coming from San Francisco, this is not something I experienced, nor what I expected in San Diego, in La Jolla in particular. I’m concerned.”

Store managers met recently with representatives of the San Diego Police Department and City Council District 1, which includes La Jolla.

Representing Councilman Joe LaCava, Steve Hadley said: “The police tell me that on one occasion, a person without housing here in The Village saw one of these burglaries in progress and called the police before the alarms went off. ... These burglars don’t stay more than two minutes, so when the police arrived, even with the advance warning, they were gone. But the police are addressing it. We have discussed how to harden that particular shop and other things the city and police might do if they are able to help out.”

SDPD representatives were not at the meeting.

Echoing the concern, La Jolla Concours d’Elegance chairman Michael Dorvillier said he had an office in The Village with a storage facility. “My storage facility on the bottom floor was broken into,” he said. “They are looking for stuff in these storage bins.”

In the parking garage of another Village office building in which he parked cars, “a group of guys came in a black car with black-tinted windows, wearing hoodies and they did a complete, thorough check of the entire parking structure,” Dorvillier said. “That’s out there and that’s happening. They know when you call the police, it is going to take time to get here. It’s becoming a huge problem in The Village.”

Summer Shoemaker, general manager of the La Valencia Hotel on Prospect Street, said the hotel’s valet parking lot is unguarded and that in the last few days of December, “we had four vehicles broken into in our valet parking lot … and four vehicles had their tires slashed. It was a very unfortunate event.”

The LJVMA board voted to add a “merchant concern, safety and security” component to the annual strategic plan, which guides the board in its decision-making and planning for the coming year. The action makes safety and security a strategic topic so the group can discuss ways to make merchants safer and help them network to catch burglars.

The association’s executive director, Jodi Rudick, said the city and the board “need to elevate this issue more. … I’m hearing so much more than the statistics are showing, so I know we need to have this conversation and find a solution.”

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association meets Jan. 12 online.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Other LJVMA news

Concours d’Elegance events: In preparation for the Concours d’Elegance car show in April, the board discussed different events surrounding the car show.

Dorvillier said the “125 or so cars that we will have on display are original, authentic automobiles. They date all the way back to the teens and pre-war. We hope to have the most valuable collector cars on the planet … a Bugatti Atalante worth in the $30-$40 million range.”

Leading up to the Sunday afternoon car show April 24 will be a new event: Ferrari Friday.

“There is so much energy associated with the event and … we want to bring the Friday night kickoff party to the heart of The Village,” Dorvillier said. “We’re planning to park as many Ferraris as we can get on Prospect Street. We will not have a ticketed event, but we want people to make reservations at local restaurants and encourage those restaurants to offer a specialty drink or come up with a special menu. We want to create a lot of walking traffic around Prospect Street and The Village.”

The Saturday “Brake in The Village” event, which encourages visitors to meander into The Village for shopping and dining, will continue. Merchants are encouraged to place car-themed decor in their windows.

“What makes this a success … and what is going to fill those restaurants, galleries and stores is having that experience,” Dorvillier said.

Board change: Longtime board member and J. McLaughlin clothing store manager Natalie Aguirre resigned from the board because she has taken a position at a jewelry brand that is not in The Village. However, she will remain on the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board as an appointee.

“It’s been such a pleasure working with the board for all these years,” she said.

To fill the vacancy left by Aguirre’s resignation, chiropractor Maddie Wallace was appointed to the open seat and will be sworn in at a future meeting.

Meeting change: The board originally intended to hold the Jan. 12 meeting in person at the La Jolla/Riford Library but instead decided to have it via Zoom because of the recent high volume of COVID-19 coronavirus cases.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Village Merchants Association next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9. It is not yet known whether the meeting will be in person or online. Learn more at lajollabythesea.com. ◆